Mandatory Judiciary Hearing on Solitary Confinement Held Day After PA Dept. of Corrections Sued for Torturous Practice of Indefinite Isolation

Connease Warren, Abolitionist Law Center, 713-304-8990,

March 5, 2024

WHAT: Judiciary Hearing on Solitary Confinement, the first of its kind

WHEN: March 5 at 12pm

WHERE: The hearing can be viewed via live stream or in person in Harrisburg, Main Capitol, Room 140

Following on the heels of a historic class action suit suing the PA Dept. of Corrections challenging the constitutionality of solitary confinement, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will hold a judiciary hearing on solitary confinement today at 12pm. There are over 1900 people in PADOC suffering in solitary confinement.

Speakers will include survivors of solitary, including Saleem Holbrook (Executive Director of Abolitionist Law Center), Rev. Chris Kimmenez (Executive Director of Healing Communities), and Lisa Kessler-Peters (Unsheltered Services Manager at Christian Churches United) and Dr. Craig Haney (social psychologist and expert on the use and impact of solitary confinement).

The suit is the first of its kind that seeks to end prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement and prohibit all solitary confinement for anyone with a mental health diagnosis. The plaintiffs are represented by the Abolitionist Law Center (ALC), the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PILP), and Dechert LLP.

The dangers of solitary, including increased instances of self-harm and suicide attempts, are documented by decades of research. There is consensus within the scientific community that the isolating conditions of solitary confinement exacerbate mental health conditions.

The conditions of solitary are so harrowing that many try to take their own lives. From 2012 – 2022, approximately 43% of suicides in the DOC occurred in solitary confinement despite those units housing only approximately 5% of those in prison

Individuals incarcerated in solitary confinement in the DOC are locked in extremely small cells for as many as 21 to 24 hours every day and denied necessary social, environmental, and occupational stimulation. Some have not seen a loved one in person for over a decade.